Today, we’ll begin a new friendship.
My Children are on lock down.
They’ve been practicing drills since school began;
just in case a shooter ever decided to come in.
My children are on lock down.
Here in this land of supposed freedom and tranquility,
I mourn the dead, and wish for modern civility.
In two short weeks, hiding in closets for kindergartners became the norm.
I used to practice my ABCs, they practice surviving gunfire
that rains like an unforgiving hailstorm.
Now fire drills are the least of our worries, and so take a back seat
to hiding from our precious guns,
as my community’s news anchors are gunned down,
conducting an interview in the street.
When will we have enough? When will we say no more?
Each community plagued by short bursts of violence must pay with permanent scars.
Mine was this week.
Will next week be yours?
Author’s Note: I did, in fact write this while my children were on lock down at their
elementary school in Roanoke, Virginia following the on-air shootings of journalists
Alison Parker and Adam Ward. Watching the coverage on TV, I pelted this out, frustrated
and emotional not only that my children had been practicing lock down drills at school, but
that such a practice is now necessary and we are completely apathetic to how
they must feel hiding in a crowded closet with a flashlight, waiting for the intercom “okay” to
come out. At Sandy Hook, in a terrible twist of torment, the intercom played only more gun
shots. When preserving the right to violence becomes more important than preserving
the right to a peaceful education, we as a society have forfeited any notion of freedom.
Freedom is not expressed when kindergartners must hide in closets at school, and middle
school teachers place the wall shelving just so— and let the students know
that if ever there’s a shooter, they are to hide behind the shelves since they appear to be
flush with the wall. This is not a mental health problem, it’s not a parenting problem, and
it’s not a media problem. This is a gun problem. This is an American Problem.
It’s not often I get a chance to chat with a fellow parent about sex education, but this morning was decidedly different. Here in our mega-hood, we have a collective bus stop at the end of the street, and all of us with elementary kids meet up each morning -bleary-eyed- with fresh coffee in hand. We regularly chat about dogs and other mundane topics, but this morning, another parent and I (we’ll call her Sherry), sparked up a conversation over her daughter’s shoes, which I had complimented. “They may not actually be appropriate for school since they light up,” Sherry looked skeptical, “but I think she can turn the lights off.” I remarked how the schools here in Virginia allow all sorts of things that my schools growing up back in Georgia never did. My admission seemed to pique her interest. “Like what?” She asked. I explained that my oldest daughter, the one with the pink and purple hair (unusual dye wasn’t allowed,for one) who’s in her last year of middle school, had recently been troubled by all of the rebel flag gear she’s seen this year, especially since the racially motivated murders of eight in Charleston, and the subsequent calls to remove the hateful banner from the Capitol grounds. My daughter returns home talking of all the “Heritage not Hate” filth she sees each day, online and at school, and my mind is blown; at least in part because at my middle or high school, both which sat roughly 60 miles north of Savannah, Georgia, such a display would have warranted a write-up and a ride home for a change of clothes. These kids don’t even understand what it is they’re advocating.
Still, Sherry seemed to be on a different quest. She awkwardly prompted me to name more things that were prohibited, but I couldn’t quite grasp what she was seeking. She kept mentioning that some “changes were coming down the pipe that would change a lot of things.” “Well, good,” I shrugged. Change is generally a good thing when it comes to racist assholes. That’s when she brought up Fairfax county and the transgender curriculum.
Ooooh, I see where this is going now. I needed desperately to refresh my memory on the particulars of the school board’s decision, but I decided to wing it for the moment. Sherry appeared afraid that the decision was headed to our Family Life Education program and that our precious children may possibly be exposed to the reality of people who are different. Worse, it seemed to escape her thoughts that one of our children could be different. She asked me about my oldest daughter, and when we started talking to her about “gay people.” I couldn’t really remember. It’s been such a long time, and such a normal part of our life to talk about sex, alternative lifestyles, birth control, and safe sex, that I couldn’t even put my finger on an exact time.
“Six?” I said. Not quite sure. Maybe younger. I explained that I didn’t want sex to be one of life’s big mysteries. Sex is why we’re all here. It drives much of what we do, and how and with whom we choose to spend our time. However, when in doubt, put up a flag. “We’re pretty progressive on these kinds of issues, so…” I trailed off as she waived my qualifier. I explained that my ultimate goal is keep the lines of communication open regarding sex. Transgender curriculum is not going make the children of Fairfax County decide to be transgender. Imagine the power of American education if we believed all education to be as equally transformative? If you listen carefully, that is the real fear here. The thought seems to follow a pattern something like this: If I talk openly with my daughter about sex, she’ll be a slut, and if my child is educated about homosexuality, she’ll become gay. If that’s the case, I’m more than willing to take my chances.